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State to revamp application process for med marijuana

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BOSTON — Today the Department of Public Health (DPH) announced significant changes to the Medical Marijuana Dispensary program in Massachusetts. The primary revision is that Medical Marijuana Dispensaries will be licensed in a format similar to other health care facilities, such as pharmacies.

“What we have in place now is a confusing, overly lengthy process that has delayed appropriate patients from getting access,” said DPH Commissioner Monica Bharel, MD. “This change will create a more efficient, market-driven licensure process that allows the Commonwealth to maintain the highest standards of both public safety and accessibility.”

The revised application process, which will formally launch on May 15, will operate on a “rolling” basis, establishing high safety and suitability standards for dispensaries to meet, particularly with regards to security and background checks. Dispensaries will be evaluated individually, based on their ability to meet these standards.

“The Commonwealth has an obligation to license Medical Marijuana Dispensaries consistent with the requirements of the law. We must provide a more timely and transparent application process with the end goal of ensuring that patients have safe access to medical marijuana,” said Marylou Sudders, Secretary of the Executive Office of Health and Human Services.

To date, DPH has issued two Certificates of Registration; one in December 2014 to Alternative Therapies Group (ATG) in Salem and one April 3, 2015 to New England Treatment Access, Inc. (NETA) to operate a RMD in Northampton, MA. NETA will begin growing marijuana for medical use at a cultivation site in Franklin, MA.

Another 13 RMDS are now provisionally certified and in the Inspection Phase. These 13 RMDs will not need to be reviewed again under this new process.

Effective today, the Department of Public Health will post and update the status of dispensaries in the approval and development pipeline and the number of registered and certified patients in the Commonwealth online at www.mass.gov/medicalmarijuana.